(CNN) –– The Joe Biden government imposed a broad series of sanctions against Russian officials and entities on Tuesday, in response to the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
The actions were carried out in coordination with the European Union, which also announced sanctions. Furthermore, they are the first significant measure against Moscow since Biden took office.
The US Treasury Department sanctioned seven top Russian government officials. These are two deputy chiefs of staff of President Vladimir Putin, two defense ministers, the attorney general, the director of the Federal Penitentiary Service and the head of Russia’s security services, the FSB. In addition, the State Department sanctioned the FSB as an entity. A designation that department spokesman Ned Price said “speaks to where we believe the guilt lies.”
Multiple sanctions against Russia
A senior Biden administration official revealed Tuesday that the intelligence community assessed with great confidence that the FSB poisoned Navalny in August 2020 with the nerve agent Novichok. An investigation by CNN and Bellingcat identified that specialists of the FSB followed Navalny before his poisoning.
Navalny was arrested when he returned to Russia in mid-January. The opposition leader had spent the previous five months in Germany, where he received treatment for the poisoning that nearly led to his death.
Additionally, the Commerce Department added 14 parties to the list of entities for their participation “in activities that are contrary to national security and the interests of the United States’ foreign policy,” said another senior official. “Specifically, these parties are involved in various aspects of chemical and biological agent production,” he said.
In addition, the State Department expanded the existing sanctions against Russia under the Law on Elimination of War Weapons and Control of Chemical and Biological Weapons. Those sanctions were imposed after Russia poisoned former spy Sergey Skripal in Britain in 2018.
Additionally, the department sanctioned Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. As well as two of its agents for having “participated in activities that materially contribute to the possession, transport and use of weapons of mass destruction by Russia. Namely, the Novichok chemical weapon “, according to a fact sheet from the State Department. The two officers “carried out a poisoning with the neurological agent Novichok in Britain in 2018,” the document says.
Of the seven people sanctioned by the Treasury Department, five already had sanctions from the European Union and the United Kingdom for the Navalny poisoning. Two of them had already been sanctioned by the European Union for the imprisonment of the opposition leader.
Sanctions on Russia are a “considerable punishment”
US government officials emphasized the importance of the complementary actions taken by the United States and the European Union. The bloc sanctioned four Russian citizens on Tuesday.
“Our sanctions were significant. The actions of Europe were significant. Altogether, this is a considerable punishment for Russia. It is a considerable sanction that Russia was not subject to before today, “said Price, a spokesman for the State Department on Tuesday.
“When the United States and Europe act together, when we both take steps to impose these costs, those costs will be felt in Moscow. And it will also be noted that the international community raises its voice to underline the rule that weapons can never be used. At no time, nowhere and by no one. That is a clear signal that we seek to send today with our closest allies and partners, “he added.
“USA. shares concerns of the European Union »
Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in a statement Tuesday that the United States shares “the European Union’s concerns regarding Russia’s deepening authoritarianism.” He also welcomes “the determination” of the bloc “to impose sanctions on Russia under its new global human rights authorities.”
The Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) said in late January that it had submitted a list of 35 people in a letter to Biden. Of that number, eight people were named as a priority for sanctions, the foundation said. Among the priority individuals were Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko. Neither of them were sanctioned by the United States on Tuesday.
However, a senior administration official told reporters in a call Tuesday that “the ability to go further is preserved.” And, you know, depending on our assessment of Russian behavior in the future, we will apply more options as necessary. “
“It is clear … that Russian officials have targeted Mr. Navalny for his activism and his efforts to reveal uncomfortable truths about the corruption of Russian officials and give voice to the legitimate grievances of Russian citizens with his government and its policies,” he said. another official. “We are using our authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and the violation of its international human rights commitments have serious consequences.”
Allies praise the measure
Lawmakers and allies of the United States, including Britain, praised the sanctions. That country’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, tweeted that the British government “welcomes the sanctions of the European Union and the United States against those responsible for the poisoning and arbitrary detention” of Navalny.
Russian officials were silent on the details of the sanctions. But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that, in general, the sanctions policy “is not achieving its objectives.”
“For those who continue this, one could say, there is dependence on some kind of restrictions in the way they conduct bilateral affairs. It is probably time for you to think about whether you are achieving any goal by continuing with this policy. And if it is just by worsening the bilateral relationship… how effective is this policy, “Peskov said in a conference call with journalists.
“And the answer would be obvious: this policy is not achieving its objectives,” he added.
More sanctions against Russia may come
Biden government officials stressed that the US sanctions for the Navalny poisoning are just the first in a series of responses to Russian actions. In that sense, they pointed out that there is “more to come” on several fronts, including the cyber attack on SolarWinds.
Senior administration officials made it clear in the call with reporters that their approach to Russia would break from that of former President Donald Trump. Precisely, the ex-president received multiple criticisms for being too soft with Moscow and with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The tone and substance of our talks with Russia and our talks on Russia will be very different from what they saw in the previous administration,” said one of the officials.
That senior administration official said the United States is not seeking to “reestablish” or intensify its relationship with Russia. Instead, the goal of the Biden administration is to have a “predictable and stable” relationship.
Not only is this the case Navalny
Beyond the Navalny poisoning, the Biden government is involved in a broad review of Russian misdeeds. Actions ranging from the massive leak to SolarWinds and alleged rewards to US soldiers in Afghanistan to interference in US elections.
“We are analyzing all this. And I can tell you with some confidence that we will take the appropriate actions that we deem appropriate to make it very clear that this type of conduct is unacceptable to us. We will do it with our allies and partners, “Blinken said in an interview with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that aired Tuesday but was recorded before the sanctions were announced.
CNN’s Nicole Gaouette, Jeremy Diamond, Kylie Atwood, Mary Ilyushina, Zahra Ullah, Matthew Chance, Anna Chernova, and James Frater contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism